Legal Cheek

1 Crown Office Row barrister in bid to become first Whig party MP for 150 years

Five years’ call junior to run for parliament representing newly “refounded” political party that was dissolved in 1868

When glanced at in a hurry, Alasdair Henderson’s website appears to suggest that he is throwing a party to celebrate his profession’s collective love of wigs.

This is incorrect, of course, with the 1 Crown Office Row barrister’s focus trained not on wigs but Whigs — the historic political movement which he and a bunch of other young wannabe politicians are in the process of resurrecting.

Dissolved in 1868 amid the rise of Labour, the Whig party was “refounded” last year by former army officer Waleed Ghan. Since then it has sparked appeal among a host of idealistic young professionals with a yearning for the glorious past, and secured five candidates to run for parliament in May’s general election.

Among them is Henderson, a five years’ call junior specialising in public law, employment and equality, human rights and clinical negligence, who is standing for the Whigs in London’s Bethnal Green and Bow constituency.

On his website, the young Oxford-educated rookie admits feeling “increasingly disillusioned” with the current political scene, before explaining why the Whig party — whose philosophy seems not dissimilar to the pre-Coalition Liberal Democrats — offers a credible alternative.

The barrister, 29, goes on to issue an appeal that sounds tailored to Bethnal Green’s thriving hipster community, describing the Whig philosophy as “vintage political principles that have stood the test of time, reworked for the 21st Century”.

Will such rhetoric get Henderson his deposit back elected?

“Let’s be realistic,” he told Legal Cheek yesterday afternoon, “I’d just love to get one person out to vote who otherwise would not have bothered because they felt disillusioned.”

Henderson added that his focus was on achieving the 2,500 votes necessary to secure the refund of the £500 deposit which he handed over in order to become a candidate.

As for what his colleagues in chambers — who include UK Human Rights Blog editor Adam Wagner and Boris Johnson’s wife Marina Wheeler — make of Henderson’s bid for power, the barrister said they were “slightly bemused that I’m running for a party they thought disappeared 150 years ago, but are now quite excited.”

Whig Party — Alasdair Henderson — Bethnal Green and Bow [Whigs.UK]